Dodgers lose, clinch postseason spot for Cardinals

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The Dodgers’ season is over, and one can only hope manager Don Mattingly learned a couple of lessons tonight.

The Giants won 4-3 in L.A. on Tuesday night to end the Dodgers’ playoff hopes and clinch the second wild card for the Cardinals. St. Louis could have clinched with a win earlier in the evening, but the Cardinals to the Reds 3-1.

The Dodgers were down 2-1 in the fifth tonight when Mattingly opted to intentionally walk Angel Pagan with a man on second, setting up a double play with one out. Marco Scutaro immediately followed with a two-run double, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead. The Giants could have kept adding on from there, but after Pablo Sandoval singled, Matt Guerrier came in and managed to strike out MVP candidate Buster Posey.

The Dodgers were able to bounce back in the seventh. A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer to pull the team within 4-3. Mark Ellis then doubled, only to get thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple with one out. Shane Victorino immediately followed with a triple, yet he was stranded on base when Matt Kemp struck out to end the frame.

Mattingly can’t be blamed for that one. His big decision in the ninth didn’t work out, though. After Andre Ethier singled to start the inning, Mattingly sent up A.J. Ellis to bunt. The catcher fell behind 0-2 trying to get the bunt down and then swung and missed on a slider well outside the strike zone. Once that happened, Mattingly decided to insert Dee Gordon as a pinch-runner and Bobby Abreu as a pinch-hitter. Abreu flew out to left, and though Gordon was able to steal second base with two out, Mark Ellis had his looping liner to center caught to end it.

Barry Zito got his 15th win tonight. The Giants have won each of his last 11 starts, with Zito going 7-0 during the span. He appears likely to be the team’s No. 4 starter in the postseason over Ryan Vogelsong.

Chris Capuano took the loss for the Dodgers. He gave up solo homers to Buster Posey and Joaquin Arias in his three innings of work.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.